For Poetic Blue

May 30, 2015

A very good friend of mine posted something on Facebook that I thought I could use as a way to start flexing the old writing muscles again. Let’s see what happens, shall we?

My friend’s BCM name is Poetic Blue. She’s an awesome writer, an activist focusing mainly on disability rights, a mom and a decent drinking buddy. You can check out her work here and find out what her actual name is.

Here’s what she posted that prompted this post:
I just don’t understand why folks keep telling me desexualization and sexualization are different sides of the same coin…Both make a woman into an object, but the former is an erased, ignored object… the latter is a shiny, pretty, sexy object. It’s that, in essence, a validation? It may not be the validation you want but it’s still a validation which is the opposite of erasure… what do you think?

I can’t speak on desexualization so much. Though now that I’m overweight I am desexualized to an extent, I don’t think it’s the same as what people with disabilities experience. It would feel like an appropriation of someone else’s cultural struggle to say “well, yeah but ME TOO!” I’m just not cool with that sort of thing.

I can say this:
when I was thinner I never felt like a shiny, pretty, sexy object when I was harassed on the street. I’ve thought a lot about this and I think the simplest, most accurate description of how I felt would be I felt like prey. Not like a piece of meat but like an animal being constantly pursued. It never felt good. It felt like my body was in danger. I didn’t feel any sort of validation from those encounters. I didn’t feel like an empowered, sensual, sexual woman. Validation comes when I find out someone is attracted to me, when someone sees the essence of Blue Collar Mamma, and not just a pair of tits with legs. I think Poetic Blue has a somewhat romanticized view of what it’s like to be objectified. So, if we’re looking at this in the context of dehumanization, I’d say it is two sides of the same coin. Because I’m pretty sure if you stuck 2 tits on a pair of legs they wouldn’t magically transform into a walking, talking human being with feelings like some sort of horrible/wonderful interpretation of Pinocchio (someone please make this movie happen).

Having said all that, I have to say I do agree with Poetic Blue if we’re looking at this in the context of sexuality/sensuality. In that sense they are two separate and shitty situations to be in for very different reasons.

To say that one side of the coin is an overabundance of sexualization and the other is a lack of sexualization is an oversimplification at best. At worst, it is wading into ableist territory. It’s not only arguing from a privileged position, it’s completely dismissive of what Poetic Blue calls “erasure.” It ignores just how much people with disabilities are marginalized and excluded in all aspects of society. We can’t have a real discussion about objectification without including the desexualization and infantilization of people with disabilities. It is oppressive. It is sexual ableism. And it’s tacky as fuck.